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Much of Vindhiya's work is partially autobiographical. All her stories deal with the domestic scenes, and in a way recall something of Norman Rockwell's vision (with an Indian flavor). The characters in these stories seem to be simple and ordinary people; but it is their ordinariness that, occasionally and deliberately, lets the reader glimpse a side that affirms traditional Indian values.

Anbu Manam (A kind heart)
This story won the first prize in a short story competition held by Kalaimagal - a prestigious Tamil monthly - where the participants were invited to submit stories with a given lead sentence: "The child started crying." The story is based on a real incident. The narrator is a woman - who has no children of her own - and has the insight of child psychology.


Kuzhandai Ullam (A childlike heart)
This story also won the first prize in a competition held by Kalaimagal - where the participants submitted stories with a given last sentence. Here the narrator is a live-in-guest of a young couple. The theme of the story is a well known one - how old age may be seen as a "second childhood."


Kaadal Idayam (A loving Heart)
One of the four short stories selected in the category of Tamil from India for the International Short Story Competition held by the New York Herald Tribune in 1950. Stories were selected from all over the world and the finalists were chosen in US by the Herald Tribune. In India, as far as the regional languages were concerned, the best were selected by some popular magazines; those selected were translated into English and sent to New Delhi where the editors of Hindusthan Times, a national English daily, made the final choice for the entire nation and submitted their choice to the New York Herald Tribune. Vindhiya's story was the second among the four in Tamil and the selection was made by Kalki, a popular Tamil weekly. Kalki featured the characters from 'Kaadal Idayam' on its cover when the first installment of the story appeared in that magazine.

It may be pointed out that among the finalists that emerged in New York, the second prize went to P. Padmaraju, a Telugu writer for his story, "The Storm."


Vizhiyin Vemmai (A warmth in the eye)
This story is based on a real person, violinst friend Marella Kesava Rao from Vindhiya's hometown Berhampur, Orissa. Everything in the story is true - except that the narrator is a young man.


Kooppiya Kai (Folded Hands)
The main idea for the story came from writer's brother Naranan who narrated an incident to Vindhiya and her husband during one of their visits in summer to Bangalore. The discussions in the story about science versus religion owe much to brother Naranan's observations on the nature and scope of religion and science.

It is likely that the waiter Subramanian was modeled after a boy from Kerala working in the South Indian Restaurant in Cuttack, Orissa - owned and run by a friend of the family. Some of these boys lived with the owner himself - and Vindhiya was quite impressed with these teenagers who hailed from Kerala and, like other natives from their state, showed considerable interest in political matters and regularly read magazines and newspapers. It is a common knowledge that Kerala - then, as of now - boasts the highest literacy rate in India. There is a popular notion about Kerala that goes like this: 'Scratch a Keralite, and you will find a communist.' But Kerala also boasts famous temples - including Guruvayoor - a fact that didn't go unrecognized by Vindhiya and her husband who were both very religious and regularly visited the temples in South India every summer.

In Subramanian, Vindhiya created an agnostic character who appeals to readers with his warmth, affection and empathy for others.


Maatham Piranthathu (The month began)
The story was published in Kalaimagal issue of June 1951. It was part of the Kalaimagal feature series where two establihsed Tamil writers - were individually invited to contribute stories with the same title. The other writer for 'The month began' was G.S. Mani; when the stories first appeared a few friends of the family thought both the stories were written by the couple - Vindhiya and her husband V.S. Mani.

The idea for the story came from her father when she sought his advice. "The title would tempt a lot of people to think of a story where the hero struggles with his paycheck every month." he said. "You should avoid that stereotype and go for something different." It was quite a prophetic statement because the other story by writer G.S. Mani dealt with that very theme.

 

Uravin Inimai (Sweet Memories)
This is a kind of story where, one might say, nothing happens...

The crisis facing the housewife here is very mundane: To wear or not to wear a particular sari. What's the big deal? Should someone even care? A reader might be tempted to dismiss this obvious feminine concern with a disdain.

But if that reader exercises some patience and tries to understand what is going on, the rewards could be many: an invitation to probe the inner, subtle working of human mind; how a continuous filtering of events, images, and thoughts takes place from a constant parade down the memory lane - all this with a balancing act of a healthy and positive attitude about others crossing our lives. It is like trying to untangle a knot - and at some point, a murmur is heard: "I think I know what the hell is going on . . ."

The process is certainly complicated, but this miracle takes place in ordinary lives all the time. In every decision humans make about this or that - several subplots play their roles. The fact that the protagonist in the story makes the right decision - it is a right decision because nobody is hurt and everyone is pleased with what she had done - owes to one source - a robust, natural, warm heart - something common to all characters who people Vidhiya's short stories.


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